Governor’s emancipation day remarks

Breaking Our Silence for Justice


Remarks delivered by

His Excellency drs. Eugene B. Holiday

The Governor of Sint Maarten,

On the Occasion of the Observance of the

154th anniversary of Emancipation Day










July 1, 2017

Emilio Wilson Estate,

Sint Maarten



My Fellow Sint Maarteners,


Good Afternoon,


Marie- Louise and I bring you warm greetings in celebration of our Emancipation Day. It is our celebration of the triumph of the indomitable spirit of our forefathers for freedom and equality. A triumph over the atrocious and brutal system of the enslavement of Africans. This triumph gave birth to a new promising era towards a more just Sint Maarten. Emancipation Day, as such, symbolizes an unwavering stance for justice.


I will therefore, in keeping with today’s theme, continue my Emancipation Day talk with you on the topic: Breaking Our Silence for Justice.


My fellow Sint Maarteners,


Throughout the history of slavery, our forefathers and mothers relentlessly stood up and raised their voices for justice. Today we are the beneficiaries of the legacy of their sacrifice, struggle and ultimate victory for justice. A legacy passed on through continued struggle, echoed in protest chants, vividly expressed in Sparrow’s calypso song “Slave” and in Bob Marley’s reggae song: “Get up, Stand up, stand up for your right”. If you only listen carefully enough you will hear the echoes of our forefathers’ chants in these songs.


Looking to the future, we the people of Sint Maarten have a moral obligation to join forces, in the tradition of the protest chants, to stand up for justice. We must remember as my grandfather, Lionel Bernard Scot often said: “there is no success without sacrifice”. For our forefathers sacrificed for us. And because of their actions we have a better Sint Maarten today. I say this because the July 1st, 1863, Emancipation Day Triumph marked the day when the people of Sint Maarten officially became one people and opened the way for a brighter future for all Sint Maarteners.


Building on the legacy of emancipation, we the people of Sint Maarten, have since realized major achievements. However, when we examine our society we see that there is still work to be done; work on our attitudes, interracial relations, and education. Work to build on and to perfect the legacy of justice of our emancipators. To do so, we must break our silence and act.  And to act more effectively, we, people of all colors, are reminded by men like Robert Nestor (Bob) Marley that we must and I quote:  “emancipate ourselves from mental slavery”. Unquote.


In turn Robert F. (Bobby) Kennedy reminds us of the power of our actions against injustice with his words and I quote: “Each time a man stands up … against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression …” Unquote.


Pointing to the urgency of action Martin Luther King reminds us and I quote: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”Unquote.


And if we still need courage to act we need only think of the bravery and sacrifice of our own “One Tete Loke”.


My fellow Sint Maarteners,


On this emancipation day breaking our silence for justice is a call to action for a better, more just society. First, it is a call to educate ourselves and others of the meaning, historic importance and present-day relevance of emancipation. For only through a deeper knowledge, awareness and recognition of our emancipation history and of the societal importance of Emancipation Day, will more people of all colors appreciate and celebrate this triumph of humanity.  And second, it is a call for us, irrespective of color or creed, to join forces to eradicate the remaining vestiges of slavery, such as racial prejudice, as well as to eradicate current social injustices, such as poverty, abuse, and gender inequality. To answer this call to action, I suggest – as I did last year – that we start by building a National Emancipation Monument, including an information center, at the Diamond Estate run for freedom site, as a beacon of freedom for all Sint Maarteners. A beacon to function as a national symbol of our continued collective pursuit to perfect the protection of the rights and freedoms of all people as stipulated in our constitution.


As we commemorate and celebrate the triumph of emancipation we must always remember that our generation of Sint Maarteners have a moral responsibility to our forefathers, to each other and to our children, to stand up for a more just society. And in doing so, to be the best that we can be, one to another and, thus to be the best we can be as a nation. And what better way to break our silence for justice than through conscious, concerted and concrete national action; as I have suggested with the building of our National Emancipation Monument.


My fellow Sint Maarteners,


It is with that ideal for our Emancipation Day that I, also on behalf of Marie Louise, congratulate all of you and wish you a most wonderful and memorable Emancipation Day celebration.


Thank you and May God Bless Sint Maarten and protect its coast.